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|Title||:||Alternative Media vs. Mainstream: History, Jobs, Advertising - Radio-TV-Film, University of Texas|
|Description||:|| Alternative media are media (newspapers, radio, television, magazines, movies, Internet, etc.) which provide alternative information to the mainstream media in a given context, whether the mainstream media are commercial, publicly supported, or government-owned. Alternative media differ from mainstream media along one or more of the following dimensions: their content, aesthetic, modes of production, modes of distribution, and audience relations. Alternative media often aim to challenge existing powers, to represent marginalized groups, and to foster horizontal linkages among communities of interest. Proponents of alternative media argue that the mainstream media are biased in the selection and framing of news and information. While sources of alternative media can also be biased (sometimes proudly so), proponents claim that the bias is significantly different than that of the mainstream media because they have a different set of values, objectives, and frameworks. Hence these media provide an "alternative" viewpoint, different information and interpretations of the world that cannot be found in the mainstream. As such, advocacy journalism tends to be a component of many alternative outlets. |
Because the term "alternative" has connotations of self-marginalization, some media outlets now prefer the term "independent" over "alternative".
Several different categories of media may fall under the heading of alternative media. These include, but are not limited to, radical and dissident media, social movement media, ethnic/racial media, indigenous media, community media, subcultural media, student media, and avant-garde media. Each of these categories highlights the perceived shortcomings of dominant media to serve particular audiences, aims and interests, and attempts to overcome these shortcomings through their own media.
The traditional, binary definition of alternative media as stated above has been expanded in the last decade. Simply comparing alternative media to the mainstream media ignores the profound effect that making media has on the makers. As producers and actors within their community, modern alternative media activists redefine their self-image, their interpretation of citizenship, and their world. Clemencia Rodriguez explains, "I could see how producing alternative media messages implies much more than simply challenging the mainstream media ... It implies having the opportunity to create one's own images of self and environment; it implies being able to recodify one's own identity with the signs and codes that one chooses, thereby disrupting the traditional acceptance of those imposed by outside sources."
With the increasing importance attributed to digital technologies, questions have arisen about where digital media fit in the dichotomy between alternative and mainstream media. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other similar sites, while not necessarily created to be information media, increasingly are being used to spread news and information, potentially acting as alternative media as they allow ordinary citizens to bypass the gatekeepers of traditional, mainstream media and share the information and perspectives these citizens deem important. Additionally, digital media provide an alternative space for deviant, dissident or non-traditional views, and allow for the creation of new, alternative communities that can provide a voice for those normally marginalized by the mainstream media. However, some have criticized the weaknesses of the Web. First, for its ability to act as both "alternative and a mass medium brings with it the tension of in-group and out-group communication." Second, the Web "rarely lives up to its potential" with constraints to access.
Digital technologies have also led to an alternative form of video more commonly known as citizen generated journalism. Individuals and smaller groups have the potential to describe and make public their interpretations of the world. Video shot on camcorders, FLIP cameras, and now cell phones have been utilized by the alternative media to commonly show human rights abuses. In turn the mainstream media picks up on these videos when it fits their narrative of what it deems "newsworthy".
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